Black Cooperative History

February 1, 2024
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Table of Contents
Primary Item (H2)
  • Did you know cooperatives played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement?
  • Did you know that W.E.B. Du Bois held a conference about cooperative businesses in 1907?
  • Did you know that the largest worker co-op in the US is overwhelmingly made up of Black and Latina women?*

If you didn’t, you are not alone. These pieces of Black history, American history, and the history of the cooperative movement, along with countless others, have been missing—and often intentionally hidden—for many decades.

The book Collective Courage by Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard changed that in 2014. Her writing and research illuminated this important and often inspiring throughline of our past. You can learn more about Dr. Nembhard’s academic specializations and achievements on the John Jay College – CUNY website, where she is a “political economist specializing in community economics, Black Political Economy and popular economic literacy.”

For a great summary of the book, we recommend this article, A Short History of Black Cooperatives in America, by Lisa Barclay of The Food Co-op in Port Townsend, WA. The Food Co-op also has an extensive list of “Racial Equality Resources” on its website, including podcasts and videos along with books and links to BIPOC co-ops.

Watch this interview with Nembhard on the Laura Flanders Show

* Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA)